As conditions in Iraq improve to the point where even adamant Iraq War opponents concede the surge has worked, the press seems less interested in questioning the Bush administration on the war. On the March 6 edition of "Fox and Friends," co-host Brian Kilmeade asked White House press secretary Dana Perino when she last received a question about Iraq. Perino responded that she does not remember "having sustained questions about Iraq...since probably early December," and added "I think that’s as a result of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in conjunction with the Iraqis really making some progress on the ground."
Does the media only want to report the bad news in Iraq? A recent MRC study suggests just that, noting "their zeal for reporting on Iraq declined as the violence and casualties did." The MRC documented that the number of stories declined in 2007 from 178 in September, 108 in October, to 68 in November.
The Fox & Friends crew welcomed both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on their airwaves on Wednesday morning. The Fox hosts were cheerful, but a bit tougher than in previous interviews this year. Here's the most interesting part of the Hillary interview, where she sends Rush Limbaugh a message:
STEVE DOOCY: Let me ask you, let me ask about this. Over the last week or so, Rush Limbaugh has been suggesting to his listeners, Republicans, conservatives mainly, to go ahead in Texas and Ohio to vote for you. What’s your message to Rush Limbaugh today?
HILLARY CLINTON: Be careful what you wish for, Rush.
Appearing on the March 5 "Your World" program with guest host Brenda Buttner, MRC Director of Media Analysis and NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham lambasted the mainstream media for its gauzy treatment of Democratic frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.):
It's really sad that at this point in the presidential campaign, when we're in a situation where they are saying now that the math is impossible for Hillary Clinton to get the Democratic nomination, that now suddenly the media is going to try to vet Barack Obama's record. And really, obviously, the media itself are saying, 'Well, obviously the Saturday Night Live skit had something to do with this.'
They're taking their cues on when to be a professional journalist based on comedy sketches?!
In the past couple of months, two journalists -- the Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman and Fox News's Bill O'Reilly -- have gotten themselves in trouble for making a seemingly innocent remark that involved the word "lynch."
On Sunday, a Democrat Congresswoman from Ohio innocently accused the Obama campaign of trying to put a noose around Hillary Clinton's neck.
Think this will stoke equal if any outrage?
While you ponder, Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), a Hillary Clinton supporter, was talking to Fox News's Shepard Smith about NAFTA as a campaign issue on Sunday when she said the following (h/t and video available here courtesy our dear friend Ms Underestimated):
On Thursday's The O'Reilly Factor, FNC analyst Karl Rove quoted an AP story by Christopher Wills from September 18, 2004, which had reported not only that Barack Obama had previously been open to a U.S. troop increase in Iraq when he was running for Senate, but had warned against a premature troop withdrawal as a "slap in the face to the troops fighting there" which could make Iraq "an extraordinary hotbed of terrorist activity." (Transcripts follow)
After devoting his "Talking Points Memo" to debunking Obama's recent claim that "there was no such thing as Al-Qaeda in Iraq until George Bush and John McCain decided to invade Iraq," Bill O'Reilly started his interview with Rove by asking why it is "bad strategy for Obama to go out and say that the Bush administration fouled it all up and we need to get out."
With new data out of the earth’s significant cooling, at least one morning show picked it up, predictably "Fox and Friends." On the February 28 edition, co-host Brian Kilmeade noted that worldwide snow cover is the highest it has been in over forty years. Steve Doocy quoted a meteorologist in California who noted that the temperature has dropped by "a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the last 100 years" and "it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded up or down."
"You know, Steve, I just wrote a book about the naked fawning for Hillary Clinton by the media over the past 15 years. I picked the wrong subject," MRC president Brent Bozell joked to "Fox & Friends" co-host Steve Doocy.
Bozell appeared on the February 26 program to discuss media coverage of the Democratic primary contest, including the latest dustup: a controversy about a photo of Sen. Obama (D-Ill.) from a 2006 Africa junket allegedly leaked by a Clinton staffer. Bozell noted that the Clinton campaign's tactics are "just goofy" and are "backfiring on them, every single time."
Bozell argued that Clinton's desperation is in part due to Obama's soft treatment by the press although, "there's no way you can say that the media have treated her [Sen. Clinton] poorly overall."
Saturday's Fox News Watch featured a discussion on revelations that CNN staff were sent a memo advising them to make positive claims about Fidel Castro to balance out the regime's critics, crediting the communist dictator as a "revolutionary hero" to leftists who established "free education and universal health care." FNC's liberal contributor and NPR correspondent Juan Williams took exception:
I don't know what was going on there. ... what news man is at work and saying here is what we want to say nice about a man who was an oppressive force in his culture, in his society? A man who long ago left the heroic stance, the Che Guevara time period, and became somewhat of a hard hand that has left his people living at a low quality of life. I don't get it.
Count Fox News's Chris Wallace in the group that believes the New York Times recent hit piece about John McCain might end up helping the GOP presidential candidate woo disgruntled conservatives in time for this November's elections.
Wouldn't it be just exquisitely delicious irony if it turned out the Times spent 3,000 words to diminish McCain's candidacy only to end up furthering it?
According to Wallace, who was interviewed Thursday by WOR radio's Steve Malzberg, such is definitely possible (11-minute audio available here):
At least when the National Enquirer prints unsubstantiated garbage, they go with new stories, MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell argued today on the Fox News Channel. Bozell was referring to the New York Times publishing a front page article on a 10-year old rumor regarding presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and lobbyist Vicki Iseman.
With the New York Times smear on likely Republican nominee John McCain and his alleged inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Fox News political correspondent Carl Cameron called in to add his take. Cameron revealed on the February 21 edition of "Fox and Friends," that Fox News came across these rumors last fall. Cameron stated that they were "unable to substantiate any of it."
In regards to the alleged affair with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Cameron asserted that they "were able to find precisely nobody who would go on the record or even suggest off the record that there was truth to the suggestion that there had been any sort of an inappropriate personal relationship."
If you were to write an article about how the three cable news networks are covering a story, would you address the one with the highest ratings first, or the also-ran?
At the Washington Post, the answer is "the also-ran."
On Tuesday, in a piece about how political pundits are "overpopulating the news networks," staff writer Paul Farhi first highlighted what was going on at third-place MSNBC, and even gave Keith Olbermann the first crack at commenting on the matter (emphasis added throughout):
Former CBS correspondent and best selling author Bernard Goldberg noted the clear double standard NBC and MSNBC has on liberal versus conservative commentators. On the February 11 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor," Goldberg discussed the corruption at NBC News after the fallout from the David Shuster "pimped out" comments.
Goldberg alluded to left wing partisan commentator Keith Olbermann, without mentioning him by name, and noted that has anchored the election night coverage and moderated a presidential debate. Goldberg posed the question "would NBC News have Rush Limbaugh anchoring their election night coverage on MSNBC? Would they have an angry, ideological right winger like Michael Savage anchor their election night coverage on MSNBC?" He then answered his own question "of course not!" And added that "they do have a left wing bomb thrower doing it."
As reported by Politico Monday evening, John Harris interviewed the presidential candidate, producing the following delicious exchange (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Thomas Stewart and Inside Cable News):
Now, this is how we expect the more "civilized," more "caring," more "intelligent" folks over at CNN to act, isn't it? The Page 6 column in the New York Post found that CNN has instituted a "a blanket boycott" of anyone from Fox News from appearing on their precious airwaves, even though Fox has had several CNN folks on their shows when those CNNers were flogging their books and side projects. It seems civility is something that CNN just cannot muster these days.
THE folks at Fox News Channel are magnanimous enough to put their rivals from CNN on air, but CNN isn't big enough to return the favor. Geraldo Rivera - who has a new book coming out, "His Panic: Why Americans Fear Hispanics in the U.S." - was booked to appear on Nancy Grace's CNN show on Feb. 28. But then he was disinvited and told CNN had "a blanket boycott" against anyone from Fox. " 'The Most Trusted Name in News' just chickened out," Rivera told Page Six. "This reveals a corporate insecurity." Fox has had on as guests both Wolf Blitzer and Glenn Beck. A CNN rep denied any boycott and blamed a scheduling conflict.
It's bad enough that CNN is so anti-social that they won't return Fox's kindness, but even worse that they went ahead and booked Geraldo and then pulled the rug out from under his invite after all the plans were made!
MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" on Friday night to discuss the David Shuster suspension over his suggestion that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by Hillary. Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes insisted both that Shuster was (a) dreadfully wrong and yet (b) over-punished for a verbal miscue. (FNC's transcript is here.)
Both hosts suggested that Tim was defending Shuster, which he denied. "Chelsea Clinton now is 27 years old. She is not the 13-year-old that moved into the White House. And the problem that — we have a much greater problem in the United States today — that she's been treated....with such an adoring tone. They really treat her like Saint Chelsea." Tim also said MSNBC had a double standard between Shuster and far wilder comments from Keith Olbermann: "Keith Olbermann could come on and say that Bush is responsible for killing 3,500 Americans. Or remember when he called Chris Wallace a monkey posing as a newscaster?"
Chris Matthews went off on one of his patented tirades on today's Morning Joe, imagining how conservatives would relish going after a President Hillary Clinton with a vengeance. Might Matthews, understandably, be short on sleep? He also bit Mika Brzezinski's head off for a harmless statement.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well you know a lot of Republican talk show people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, I think authors, successful authors, I must say, like Ann Coulter, they wouldn't be so unhappy to have Hillary Clinton to beat up for four or eight years, especially four years. And Mr. DeLay would probably love to have Hillary to beat up for two years and then win back the house in '10. I mean I could see the strategy -- sometimes in bad weather you let the other team have the ball. You elect to kick rather than receive. Let them have the ball in the Ice Bowl. Let them try to move it past the second or third yard while you come down hard on them. The people like Bill Kristol out there, the neo-conservatives. Imagine Hillary Clinton as president for a couple of months with about a one-point advantage coming into office? They will crash around her, hitting her with everything they've got.
Here's a belated item for your media-bias talking points: after rummaging through the media coverage of the typically large March for Life on Tuesday, January 22, I have the following scorecard:
-- ABC, CBS, and NBC had absolutely nothing on the March, and absolutely nothing on the 35th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Put the word "abortion" into Nexis and you get a black hole for that day, and the next day.
-- By contrast, Fox News Channel at least had a fair-and-balanced report on the March (complete with abortion advocates like Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation) on Tuesday night's Special Report with Brit Hume.
-- National Public Radio offered several segments on the Roe anniversary, but no mention of the March for Life (with the asterisk that news breaks on the hour are not loaded into Nexis.)
Something from what I like to call the forgive but never forget file. From the MRC.org CyberAlert archives, March 7, 2001:
Ted Turner insulted attendees at Bernard Shaw’s retirement party, asking those on Ash Wednesday with a smudge on their foreheads if they were "a bunch of Jesus freaks," FNC’s Brit Hume reported Tuesday night.
Hume revealed during his "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume:
One clear sign of just how powerful talk radio is today is the number of candidates and mainstream media types pointing fingers at leading conservative hosts for their influence.
The recent fixation on Rush Limbaugh's unfavorable position towards Republican presidential candidate John McCain is a fine example.
Conservative talker and Fox News host Sean Hannity has now been tossed into the campaign influence peddling ring by none other than Mike Huckabee who shared some criticisms of the outspoken radio and television personality with Florida's Herald Tribune last Friday:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was Howard Kurtz's guest on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, and unfortunately, viewers were treated to a litany of hypocrisies from both media personalities, so much so that it seemed like a lengthy advertisement for the controversial "Countdown."
Although Kurtz did present his guest as being mostly liberal and decidedly anti-Bush, he never once mentioned "Countdown's" actual ratings, or how Olbermann is often in last place in his time slot behind "The O'Reilly Factor," "Nancy Grace," and whatever is being offered by CNN.
You would think that since Kurtz works for CNN, he might have mentioned this.
But that wasn't the only hypocrisy Sunday morning, for when Olbermann made clear just how biased he is, Kurtz seemed to be totally oblivious (video available here, liberal website warning):
The woman who got her big break on network TV thanks to the firing of Don Imus now apparently wants another host to lose his job over some tasteless remarks.
Morning Joe is the show that took over MSNBC's early-morning time slot after Imus was bounced for his offensive observations about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Mika Brzezinski, a regular member of the Morning Joe crew, has now left little doubt she would like to see John Gibson fired for the callous comments about the death of actor Heath Ledger the Fox News host made on his radio show.
"I like how you think, senator," cooed "Late Show" host David Letterman in agreement with John Edwards's charge that "most of what" Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly says "is crap."
Letterman had asked the former senator about his "feud" with O'Reilly over Edwards's charge that the Bush administration is failing to care for military veterans to the extent that hundreds of thousands are winding up homeless.
The exchange came in a jovial January 22 interview in which Edwards joked about having Letterman as his running mate, or at the very least as a celebrity endorser a la Oprah Winfrey.
The Republicans had two contests for delegates on Saturday, but many pundits played the game of playing up the hotly contested race, and playing down the "little-contested" race, even though they equally count at convention time. In this case, it also means playing up media favorite John McCain and playing down media un-favorite Mitt Romney. Here's AP reporter Tom Raum:
Among Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney cruised to victory in the little-contested GOP Nevada caucuses.
But McCain's victory in South Carolina could shake up the GOP contest and give him political grasp. McCain won in New Hampshire but placed second to Romney in Michigan.
This kind of punditry, assuming McCain's victory is the one with the "grasp," ignores the actual delegate count. According to CNN on Sunday morning, Romney has 72, McCain has 38, and Huckabee has 29.
"The New York Times" uses fuzzy math to smear volunteer soldiers and "Fox and Friends" picked it up. MRC’s Clay Waters reported on the "Sunday Times" January 13 story, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," essentially smearing soldiers linking some committed murders to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.
However, the numbers show that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are far less likely to commit murder. On the January 16 edition of "Fox and Friends," co-host Steve Doocy noted that veterans are "five times less likely to commit murder." Gretchen Carlson noted the danger of putting out these dubious stories adding "You don't have time to actually get to the bottom of all of these articles. People just assume that what they read, wrong or right, is truth."
It really was just a matter of time before one of the most hate-filled and vitriolic press members, whose material relies so strongly on reports from Clinton front organizations Media Matters for America and Think Progress, would start posting articles at one of the most hate-filled and vitriolic liberal websites on the Internet.
In fact, it's really a perfect fit, dontcha think?
As such, when MSNBC's Keith Olbermann posted his first blog at Daily Kos Monday, it shouldn't be surprising that he took the opportunity to bash Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.
After all, what would this man be without Bill, and those who hate him (h/t NB reader Thomas Stewart and Inside Cable News):
TV Newser reports that reader reaction to the Playboy magazine interview in which MSNBC star Keith Olbermann wackily claimed that Fox News was more dangerous than al-Qaeda was so bad, Playboy went looking to recruit a positive letter-writer for balance.
[A]n anonymous emailer directed TVNewser to BloggingOlbermann.com, a fan site of Olbermann's. Becky, who runs the site, tells the story of how Playboy editor Chip Rowe contacted her looking for a positive letter in support of Olbermann to offset the slew of negative letters Playboy received...
More from an industry insider: "The more glaring issue here is that Olbermann's Al Qaeda comment was so over the top that Playboy had to resort to asking one of his rabid fans to find one person to say something positive about him."
But there's more. Keith-loving blogger Becky was allowed to use a phony surname in her letter:
Add Keith Olbermann to the list of MSNBC hosts offended by popular applause lines from Thursday's GOP debate on FNC. On Friday's Countdown, the same day that Hardball's Chris Matthews had earlier compared Mike Huckabee's words regarding the U.S. military defending itself from Iran to "talking like jihadists," Olbermann named Fred Thompson "Worst Person in the World," contending that the GOP presidential candidate had "pulled another whopper" because the former Senator joked that Iranian military members on speed boats who harassed U.S. Navy warships came close to meeting "those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing." Olbermann further mocked Thompson by suggesting that his candidacy was just part of a "Candid Camera" stunt. (Transcript follows)